Mon. Dec 5th, 2022
Ginebra import Justin Brownlee seeks naturalization.  –PBA IMAGES

Ginebra import Justin Brownlee seeks naturalization. –PBA IMAGES

Justin Brownlee could only nod when he heard the names of prolific players who had filled the naturalized player’s place for Gilas Pilipinas.

Jordan Clarkson. Marcus Douthit. Andrew Blache. Even college star Ange Kouame comes with her own custom resume.

“Man. I definitely have big shoes to fill,” Brownlee said with a nervous chuckle during a late Friday night conversation with the Inquirer.

Clarkson, the Utah Jazz star of the National Basketball Association, is without a doubt the best scorer the national basketball program has ever produced. Meanwhile, Douthit spearheaded a dramatic victory against South Korea in the Fiba Asian Cup that brought the Philippines back to the World Cup. In the 2014 edition of the global basketball show, Blatche helped Gilas Pilipinas achieve a landmark victory.

“I know the past, especially with Blatche and the national team even in 2014, so I definitely have some big shoes to fill,” he added.

Kouame may be the least successful of this pool, but his work with Ateneo and the brilliant run of the national team in a Fiba qualifying tournament held here is nothing to deride.

The beloved Barangay Ginebra import, Brownlee, is on track to become the newest member of the Gilas Pilipinas, following the latest official proposal for Philippine citizenship in the House of Representatives just this Wednesday.

And that’s why he’s ready to embroider his own story into the country’s basketball history, without worrying about how it will stand out compared to its predecessors.

“I have a lot of respect for these guys, especially when it comes to basketball, but I really want to give my best,” he said.

“I think everyone is unique in their own way, but I guess just being me and playing my style of basketball and helping that apply within the team and helping them progress through the way they play and what they have achieved so far, How can I do that? [truly] To adapt.”

A five-time PBA champion and a two-time league’s Top Import winner, Brownlee’s tireless play has endeared him not only to PBA fans, but also to players and fans of rival ball clubs.

“He never missed practice and always gives his best,” national coach Chot Reyes recently told The Inquirer. “And the good thing about JB is that he’s willing to be a backup. He told me he’d be ready if JC (Jordan Clarkson) wasn’t available – that’s a big thing.”

And the do-it-all striker insists that when the time comes, his goal has nothing to do with being as outstanding as his predecessors.

“I can’t say I’ll be as special as the natural players of the past, but I think I can bring something different just by being myself,” he said.

Philippine Arena

Brownlee’s naturalization bill will need two more readings at the House level before it goes to the Senate. There it will go through the same legislative process and then be sent to the Presidency for enactment.

Only then can Brownlee resume his role as a naturalized player and stop the national team – basketball officials hope that happens by February, when Gilas welcomes slamming Lebanon and vengeful Jordan at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. .

“I just hope it works,” he said.

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